Hyperostosis frontalis interna: a Nubian case

Am J Phys Anthropol. 1988 May;76(1):25-8. doi: 10.1002/ajpa.1330760103.


The aim of this article is to present evidence of hyperostosis frontalis interna in a 40-year-old female recovered from a Meroitic cemetery (ca. 300 A.D.) in Sudanese Nubia. A review of the literature concerning the Morgagni-Stewart-Morel (MSM) syndrome suggests that the changes in the skull fragment are consistent with this diagnosis. This case is the earliest example of the condition so far reported, and therefore, in archaeological time and space, this is a disease not only of modern civilization, but also of antiquity. Current endocrinological reports suggest that the hyperostosis is the hallmark of a generalized disorder of bone metabolism, with increased androgens, prolactin, and somatotropins. Hyperostosis frontalis interna is the central feature of a syndrome first described over 200 years ago by the early pathologist Giovanni Batistta Morgagni, professor of anatomy at Padua (1719). He found thickening of the internal tables of the frontal bones in association with virilism and obesity. Stewart (1928) and Morel (1929) independently added several neuropsychiatric problems to this complex and questioned the possibility of an endocrine basis for the syndrome.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • History, Ancient
  • Humans
  • Hyperostosis Frontalis Interna / history*
  • Hyperostosis Frontalis Interna / pathology
  • Paleopathology*
  • Sudan